Blu-ray firmware – time to be up-front

Recently I’ve looked at a couple of Blu-ray players where they appear to be sticking to the old consumer electronics model: put a finished product on the shelf and have nothing more to do with it until it breaks.

That simply won’t work for Blu-ray players. They are programmable devices, with the programs residing on Blu-ray discs (usually in the form of BD-Java code). New discs are being released all the time, pushing further the boundaries of what discs are supposed to do. They can’t be tested on every player out there, so the players have to be updated from time to time to ensure compatibility.

So we, and CE manufacturers, are going to have to get used to the idea that consumer electronics is no longer a ‘final product’ as it’s sold, but is subject to firmware revisions. To that end, the most recent firmware needs to be readily available. Much of the industry already has automatic firmware updating directly from the Web for their BD-Live Blu-ray players: Panasonic, Sony, Samsung, Oppo etc. When you switch any of those on, they query home, so to speak, to see if a new firmware is available and ask you if you want them to update themselves.

Normally this is just to ensure disc compatibility, but entire new capabilities can be added. For example, a Samsung player added to itself YouTube access in an automatic firmware update.

So the days of finding out what firmware is installed by going to a specific place in the setup menu, then typing in a seven digit access code, are, or should be, long gone.

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